Here I went again!
I was at another of Mitchell's tennis matches.
Here are couple of things to set the stage for my "bad dad" moment.
Mitchell had been playing competitive tennis year round for a while, and this was his senior year. He was playing in a winter league to lead up to the high school season starting in March. Anyway, I'm very competitive and even more so through my son. I was often harping on him to practice his serve – a make or break skill for him. He had a very good one when it was on...
Okay, so we were at the indoor match, and he was playing his common foe from another school. Both had great respect for each other. They were very evenly matched, except Mitchell was struggling with that serve consistency again. That's not the real story though.
Here's the real story. Me. And what my body language was communicating to Mitchell.
I was sitting there, steaming, not because of the double faults. Well, kind of. You see, I'd been wanting him to get out and practice more so that coming into the high school season the consistency would be there. Perhaps I was right...but ultimately that was up to him. Bottom line, he always did give the match everything he had. Regardless, he lost the match. I love my son. But I was clearly focused on the loss and my interpretation of why - the serve.
But the real "bad dad" moment hadn't even come yet.
After the match, he came out to talk to us. He told us he felt good about his game, etc, etc. My wife engaged him, smiled, talked, asked. Me - yep, I didn't even look at him. I didn't say anything. Wow, I can't believe I'm even writing this! But, that was it. He went back to his team, with absolutely no boost from his dad. Quite the opposite.
Should he have been out practicing his serve more? Doesn't matter. In that moment, for that match, I should have been there for him. And I wasn't. Huge emotional withdrawal.
I am happy to say that I eventually recognized the error of my ways (because my wife told me!), apologized and started the new and improved dad at the next match. I even challenged him to hold me accountable.
Funny, he served really well. And won.